With the season merely a week away (holy buckets, by the way), the Twins seem to have figured out the direction they would like to take their roster. A series of transactions today helped clear things up. The first word to come down was that Kennys Vargas was claimed by the Cincinnati Reds. He was already going to be off the roster, thanks to his being designated for assignment a few days ago, but now he is officially out of the organization. The move doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Reds, and it seems unlikely that Cincinnati will be Vargas’s final home.
Some players were also given bad news, either that they would be starting the year in the Minor Leagues, or would be given the opportunity for their release. The more significant moves were the sending of Jake Cave, Alan Busenitz and Tyler Duffey to the minors, and the release of Chris Heisey. Erick Aybar was also told he will not be making the roster. If the Twins want another infielder to make the roster, it seems that Tyler Featherston is the only option. That is to say, it sounds like Ehire Adrianza will be the only bench infielder.
The outfield has Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler as starters, and now Zach Granite and Robbie Grossman coming off the bench. Grossman has some positional versatility, and Granite has options, so if there is a surprise change, I think that would be spring training stud Ryan Lamarre pinching Granite’s spot.
In addition to Busenitz and Duffey being assigned to the minors, the Twins announced their rotation, which will sit at 4 players for the first few weeks thanks to a surfeit of off days. The opening day starter will be Jake Odorizzi, with an eye towards a trip to Puerto Rico, and the opportunity for Jose Berrios to pitch in his homeland. Since the 4 top starters are well established, Odorizzi, Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn, the 5th starter needs to be stashed in Rochester, or used as a long reliever in the interim. This seems to be the most likely scenario, which would place Phil Hughes in the bullpen.
Adding up the 9 regular every day starters (Rosario, Buxton, Kepler, Jason Castro, Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Miguel Sano and Logan Morisson) plus the bench (Granite, Grossman, Adrianza and back up catcher Mitch Garver) with the 5 eventual starting pitchers puts us at 18, leaving a spot for 7 players to go to the bullpen. Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed, Zach Duke, Trevor Hildenberger, Ryan Pressly and Taylor Rodgers seem to be locked in to spots, leaving the last spot up to the two remaining question marks in camp, Tyler Kinley and Gabriel Moya. How badly do the Twins really want Kinley around? We’ll find out soon.
But that’s really the biggest question left a this point. We’re less than a week away from the season. This is exciting.